Pete Sampras once dismissed the idea of viewing his arch-rival Andre Agassi as the enemy, shedding light on their amicable relationship off the court.
Sampras and Agassi established one of the greatest and most compelling rivalries in tennis history. The duo locked horns in 34 tour-level encounters, with Sampras enjoying a 20-14 lead in their head-to-head record. Despite their fierce on-court battles, the two maintained a cordial relationship off the court.
During his campaign at the 1995 US Open, Pete Sampras was questioned about the surprising lack of animosity between them. However, the American rejected the notion that he should harbor hatred towards his arch-rival, emphasizing that Andre Agassi wasn’t his enemy.
“There is no reason why we should hate each other. I mean, it just goes to show, you can still be 1, 2 in the world or whatever and Andre is not the enemy. We get along just fine off the court,” Sampras said in a press conference.
Sampras highlighted the immense mutual respect that existed between them, stating that it allowed them to keep their rivalry confined to the court and kept them from taking cheap shots at each other in the media.
“There is a lot of mutual respect we have for one another and we just leave it on the court. We are not going to take any cheap shots in the media. We just go out and play,” he said.
Pete Sampras then touched on his longstanding acquaintance with Agassi, citing their years of competing together at the Davis Cup. He asserted that, unlike players from the previous generations who didn’t communicate with each other, he got along well with Agassi.
Although they maintained a “distant” relationship due to their intense on-court rivalry, Sampras revealed that they were friends in their way.
“I have known him for so many years and being, you know, a member of the Davis Cup team with him, I mean, versus guys 10, 15 years ago, they really wouldn’t talk to each other,” Pete Sampras said.
“Andre and I are in the lockerroom; we get along just fine. We are friends to a certain point; we are not hanging out having dinner. We have to keep our space somewhat distant, because of the position we are in, but it is fine, I mean, he is not the enemy,” he added.
Pete Sampras defeated Andre Agassi in the 1995 US Open final